There is typically one common factor about squirrels in the chimney; they usually don’t want to be there. Squirrels are one of the many animals that can fall into your chimney if you don’t have a cap on top of it. In most cases, squirrels can climb out as long as the chimney is made from mortar, stone, or brick since there are nooks and crannies to hold onto. In the case of slick metal tubes, they will be stuck. The actions necessary to get the squirrel out of your chimney will depend on whether or not it is stuck.
Assuming It Is Trapped
In the vast majority of cases, the squirrel will be trapped in your chimney. Either it fell in or it went inside intentionally and later realized it couldn’t get out. When this happens, you need to offer the squirrel an escape route. Tie a thick rope to the top of your chimney and let it hang down. Give the squirrel some time and it should climb out. Alternatively, you can let the squirrel down via the damper so it enters your fireplace. There, you could trap it using a net or blanket.
If The Squirrel Isn’t Trapped
In cases where you know the squirrel isn’t trapped in the chimney, you can assume that it will leave at some point to get food. Place a trap at the top of the chimney so you can catch it when it does. Then, put a chimney cap or other effective barrier in place and release the squirrel.
What Not To Do
For some reason, some people tend to think that lighting a fire in the fireplace is going to get a squirrel out of the chimney. If the animal is stuck, this will clearly not work as it still can’t get out. Instead, you will make things worse and likely burn the poor animal alive.
Consult A Professional
For those who don’t feel comfortable climbing on their roof or simply want to make sure they get the squirrel out of their chimney as soon as possible, wildlife professionals are a great resource. They will know the best methods, including the ones mentioned above, and have all the materials on hand. They may even be able to recommend you a chimney inspection and/or cleaning company to make sure it is safe to light a fire after the animal is gone.
How to get rid of squirrels in the chimney
Your chimney is just like a big tree to the average squirrel. It has holes in which it can hide and get away from potential predators, and it is just covered enough to protect them from the battering elements of bad weather. Just like a tree hollow, your chimney offers shelter, somewhere secure to raise a young family, and has everything needed to be safe… For a while at least. Think of like this - your chimney is like a dream home to the humble squirrel. Being great climbers, squirrels will often scramble in and out of chimneys without any assistance but every so often, one will get stuck and if you don’t want the animal to die in there, you’ll need to intervene. If you have an open flue for example, it would be easy for a mother squirrel to find it as she dashes from attic to attic, looking down, trying to find her next home for a while. She might be able to clamber out of the smooth flue but there’s a good chance her babies won’t, if she has them in tow, and then you’ll have a small family to save on your hands. To be fair, it’s not hard to tell whether or not you have an animal living within your chimney, and it won’t be long before you hear the scampering of sharp claws if the squirrel is your culprit. Using the time of the day the animal is most active, you should be able to make out which critter it is - squirrels tend to be more active during the day, and other, bigger animals such as the raccoon and the opossum will generally be more active at night. Thankfully, if you have a squirrel in your chimney, you have more options open to you than with any other animal. You have more than a few ways of using the tools you already have at your disposal, or ones easily bought in a hardware store, to try and encourage the critter to go and set up home elsewhere.
The chimney is a more concentrated area than somewhere more open, such as your attic. This means that using predator urine or eviction fluid can help to encourage the squirrel to go somewhere else. Raccoon eviction fluid will can scare a female squirrel away because she’ll think there is a male racoon around (the eviction fluid is made up of urine and other body secretions from a male raccoon), and think her family isn’t safe. At that point, she’ll go and find somewhere else, a much better place to keep her family safe.
Do not start a fire
This is by far one of the worst things you can do when you’re trying to get squirrels out of your chimney. When you let the smoke out via the damper, the squirrels could either get into your house or stuck in the fireplace. If they get out, you then have loose squirrels to worry about and if they don’t, you’ll burn them alive. From experience we can tell you that smell is not a pretty one! Many homeowners think that by starting a fire, the animal will eventually leave but there is a good chance it (squirrel or otherwise) could be stuck, unable to get out. Either way, you’re running the risk of having a terrible odor in your home that will not go away easily or quickly.
If the animal has gotten stuck at the bottom of the chimney, perhaps if it has slid down the flue and is unable to get back out, there is a good chance that with a bit of help, you can encourage the squirrel to save itself. Lowering knotted rope, or even a length or long material, down the flue will act as a ‘ladder’ of sorts. When you are not around to scare it, the squirrel is likely to use the rope or material to climb out of the hole and your problem will be solved. You should probably get a mesh cap or something to go on top of the chimney though - leaving it open is just asking for another wild critter to slip right down there.
We would always recommend that this is a job best left to the professionals but if you can get your hands on some specifically designed squirrel traps, you can try to get one step ahead of your new squirrel friend. You can set traps at the top of the chimney to trap the mother as she leaves to find food, and when you have safely captured her, use your own bare hands to get to her babies at the bottom. None of the squirrel removal methods we have discussed here are fool proof, and there is a good chance that many of them will go wrong before you even get anywhere close to capturing the animal that is making such a racket in your chimney. Just remember to do your research, get some advice from a professional, and have everything you need to hand before you even commence trying to remove your squirrel from the chimney.